FATFREE’s essential marketing reading list
FATFREE’s essential marketing reading list

By on in Agency Life & Leadership

FATFREE’s essential marketing reading list

What books have transformed the way you think, live, and work?

It’s a big question, but we can all relate to the experience of glancing up from the final page of a book and feeling a shift in our understanding of the world.

We asked our team to think about the books that rocked their perception of the work they do. They responded with nine titles that have shaped how they write, approach strategy, and interact with clients and colleagues.


Marketing and advertising

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – Al Ries & Jack Trout

“There are laws of nature, so why shouldn’t there be laws of marketing?” This question from the book’s introduction is what spurred Al Ries and Jack Trout to define what they saw as the immutable laws of our industry.

Our strategic account manager Jessica Barrett calls the resulting book, “132 pages of awesome that even seasoned marketers should read every couple years.”

The Four – Scott Galloway

No four companies that have had a greater impact on modern life than Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Scott Galloway explores how these companies established themselves as essential pillars of the 21st Century—impossible to avoid in our daily lives.

Our strategic account manager Mike Lanzi recommends this as an informative read for anyone who’s interested in business and marketing strategy.

Ogilvy on Advertising – David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy was one of the real-life “Mad Men” who shaped the world of modern advertising in the mid-20th Century. He was, unsurprisingly, a highly quotable theorist of his craft; our creative director Amy Derksen often pulls this one out: “You cannot bore your customer into buying your product.”

For more wisdom and a look behind the scenes at how Ogilvy built one of the most iconic agencies of all time, add this book to your queue.


Writing and style

Everybody Writes (Completely Revised and Expanded) – Ann Handley

If you’re looking for modern marketing theorists to help inspire your work, Ann Handley should be on your list. Her book is filled with insights that can help anyone—whether a relative newbie or a seasoned content expert—improve their writing.

Jessica highlights one of Ann’s techniques that has been transformative for her: “I live and die by TUFD (The Ugly First Draft) and I thank Ann for teaching me the best place to start is a brain dump and then to walk away from it for a while.”

The Elements of Style – William Strunk & E.White

No fewer than three FATFREEers had The Elements of Style on their reading list. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more iconic English style manual. Amy says, “It’s 100 pages of rules to live by. I was forced to read it as a college freshman and have chosen to read it again many times since as a reminder of the elegance and value of clear, succinct communication.”

Even if you’re not primarily a writer, it’s worth your time. Mike Lanzi keeps it on his shelf for that very reason: “It’s a favorite because so much of agency ‘work’ is writing.”

Cultish – Amanda Montell

Yes, this is a book cults, not marketing. But in an era when brands seek to build “cultish followings” and a cadre of “raving fans,” perhaps there’s something we can learn from how cults build loyalty with their followers.

Author Amanda Montell is a linguist who dissects the wordy tricks and tactics most often employed by cult leaders. And FATFREE’s Amanda (Rodhe, content strategist and copywriter) found it to be a fascinating look at the persuasive power of language. Rodhe’s caveat, of course, is to wield any powers you pick up from the book ethically!


Relationship management

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck – Mark Manson

Dropping an f-bomb in a client meeting is not something we’d recommend, but reading this book with an f-bomb in the title is. Jessica says this book was “life-changing” in helping her set realistic expectations.

If you feel like you’ve fallen into the trap of trying to magical-think your way out of a terrible, clearly unsalvageable work situation, this book will help you quiet those unhelpful voices telling you to just stay positive and instead find a healthy, achievable, happy balance.

Set Boundaries, Find Peace – Nedra Glover Tawwab

Amanda says, “If you’re a recovering people pleaser like me, you need this book.”

Tawwab teaches you how to firmly but kindly state what works for you. This not only makes you a saner, happier colleague, but it also helps you create the space you need to deliver your best work—a win for clients, too.

Want to chat about how we’d apply the marketing strategies these books espouse to your business? Give us a shout.